Death of an Optimist
(plus all of “A Modern Tragedy”, which I just discovered this year)
“Nobody really cared, so it never really mattered
It never really mattered, so it never really happened
What’s the point in fightin’ for a happy ever after?
The past keeps hauntin’ the future I imagine
All I ever wanted was a little peace and quiet
Just color in the lines, and you’ll get it like they promise
If you bite the hand, get louder and defiant
Then you’ll see how quickly they come making a deposit”
Grandson was the soundtrack to my 2020, and reflected what a lot of us experienced this turbulent year. I discovered Grandson earlier this year, and have been addicted to his music ever since. Grandson is a hit machine, not just because he’s a lyrical master or can slay on the guitar or pump out a memorable cover of Linkin Park’s “One Step Closer”, but also because he can articulate the present day with precision, passion, clarity, and raw honesty that is truly lacking in Grammy and radio-friendly music.
Like Body Count, Grandson represents aggressive change and societal upheaval. As a white person completely against white power and white privilege, most notably anti-Trump, he is the rapping, sarcastic voice of the antithesis, and a persona that I can relate to completely. He is clever with his criticism, calculated with his attacks. He is creative with duality of identity (even if the “X” persona is a bit overdone), and is a multimedia and social media master. His cinematic productions are engaging, and his topics are timely and necessary. Singles released during 2020 – “Identity”, “Riptide”, “Dirty”, and “We Did It!” previewed the greatness of “Death of an Optimist” long before its December release and provided perfect commentary for this divisive and difficult election year.
But I’m not notching him number one on my list for “Death of an Optimist” alone. No, I first discovered Grandson via the track “6:00”, which was released a couple of years ago and sounds and plays like a scene pulled from the darkness and chaos of 2020.
“There’s no difference between you and I
We share the same sunshine from the same sky
When it rains, it rains on both you and I
Gotta sink or swim, now it’s do or die
It goes hashtag, bodybag, toe tag
Shot in the chest
It goes hashtag, bodybag
Even when I’m on my last breath”
Grandson would’ve dominated my 2018 and 2019 lists with his release “A Modern Tragedy” if I had known about him. Out of respect for BLM, George Floyd, Breona Taylor, and the countless others that suffered racial injustice in 2020 that led to riots and protests that began in my home area of Minneapolis and spread throughout the world, I give you Grandson, an unassuming, mop-headed voice for unity, truth, and justice.
My optimism is on life support. “Death of an Optimist” is an appropriate biography of how I got to the ER.